Piston Slap: A Primer on electric power steering upgrades?


Jack writes:

How about a “guide” on how to add power steering to a 1960s Dodge Power Wagon?

Sajeev answers:

Well then! Perhaps this is a good time to talk about a conversion to electric power steering?

The benefits of these systems over traditional hydraulic systems are plentiful: no accessory drive modifications, no extra hoses, and there’s often no chassis/suspension modifications needed. The vast majority of changes happen between the steering column and the steering box (or rack, depending on application). While high-performance purists may disapprove of the feedback offered, let’s hope that particular concern is irrelevant in your average Dodge Power Wagon.

We’ve previously discussed the conversion using Toyota and GM donor cars, but universal applications are available and might make this primer a little easier to cover. While not germane to your era of Power Wagon, all vehicles should be converted to run on 12-volt electrical systems first.

Be it junkyard parts or a pre-engineered kit, the high level overview of this conversion starts with installing the power assist motor between the steering column and the steering box/rack, finding a home for the computer, and wiring it all up neatly under the hood and behind the dashboard. Of course I am not gonna ramble on about the details, as this video explains the process pretty well.

But this is not applicable to Jack’s power wagon, and I have yet to find a drop-in conversion for his Dodge. Instead of trying to explain how this could be implemented in his rig, how about proof that a video is indeed worth a thousand words?

And if that video is too much labor to make it all work, how about converting to an aftermarket steering column with provisions for electric power steering?

While I would love to install a junkyard power steering kit on the factory steering system on a vintage Dodge truck, kits like this one from Ididit are likely to make it a whole lot easier. Ididit is known for making its steering columns work for any vintage vehicle, so contact the company if so inclined.

But which option is the right one for you, dear reader? Kinda irrelevant for me to guess,; the point I’m making is that you have options. I’d never dissuade someone with the time and technical skills to DIY this with junkyard parts, and I’d encourage everyone to buy an engineered kit to support a company that supports our diverse hobby. I just wish to steer (sorry) everyone into making this conversion a reality for their manually-assisted vintage vehicle, so just do it.

Have a question you’d like answered on Piston Slap? Send your queries to pistonslap@hagerty.com, give us as much detail as possible so we can help! If you need an expedited resolution, make a post on the Hagerty Community!

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